RECLAMATION: Recipes, Remedies, and Rituals online exhibition

A table set with bowls and containers of fresh and dried herbs and grains. A large black bowl filled with dried corn sits to the right of the image, with a smaller black bowl of dried rice below.
Participatory virtual exhibition explores the connective power and healing properties of food

WASHINGTON—A new virtual exhibition at the National Museum of Women in the Arts is asking for your recipes. RECLAMATION: Recipes, Remedies, and Rituals, opening January 18, will recontextualize the traditional role women play in providing sustenance and healing. The exhibition will feature recipes, stories and images submitted by the public, interwoven with the work of eight interdisciplinary artists. Submissions may be uploaded here through January 3, 2021.

RECLAMATION is an evolving exhibition—and a recipe and ingredient archive—that examines food as a creative medium for visual art and a connective tool for exploring intergenerational and intercultural experiences. The exhibition centers around a kitchen table, the central domestic object for gatherings of family and friends. Artists will activate their own kitchen tables, sharing photographs, videos and stories about how they use this domestic object. These intimate glimpses into the artists’ homes simultaneously reveal a work of art and the process used to create it.

Through a digital ingredient archive, developed in partnership with the Family Arts Museum and Ten-Fifteen Media, online visitors can participate in the exhibition by sharing recipes, anecdotes, photos and reflections related to food. The exhibition pushes the boundaries of traditional museum exhibitions by layering submissions with the artists’ work, creating a dynamic portal for exploring the interconnectedness of food and the communal nature of nourishing and curing the body. RECLAMATION expands on the museum’s traditional thinking about the role of art with work from artists who have excelled professionally in the fields of dance, photography, filmmaking, writing, cooking, community organizing, storytelling and performance art.

The exhibition also features interviews and content from the Curative Collective, a group of partners focusing on food—from advocacy and social justice work, to healing and restorative self-care. These organizations help ensure that the exhibition reflects and serves their communities while sharing their arts and social change resources with NMWA’s audience. Examples of Curative Collective organizations are Black Magick Sisters, Dreaming Out Loud, Herbal Aid Apothecary and STRŌB Apothecary, among others.

“The exhibition was originally conceived for NMWA’s galleries, but now that RECLAMATION is taking place in a virtual venue, we have the opportunity for wider public participation,” said Melani N. Douglass, exhibition curator and NMWA director of public programs. “We are already receiving recipes, stories and images from women across the country and around the world. One of my favorites so far is a touching story with hand-drawn images about the importance of a grandmother’s pancake recipe. RECLAMATION is an opportunity to peer into a family’s intimate traditions and explore on many levels the impact of what happens at the kitchen table.”

RECLAMATION is accompanied by related virtual programs, now available for viewing on demand. Programs include conversations with the Curative Collective and a discussion with The Baltimore Museum of Art about the concept of healing in art. View the playlist here.

About the Artists

Sharayna Ashanti Christmas is a social entrepreneur, creative and producer. Over the last 15 years, she has served in many capacities, including performer, creative director, facilitator and collaborator—to help develop and sustain ecosystems that support creatives and the communities that they live in and serve. With her mother, she founded Muse 360 Arts, a nonprofit that served over 1,000 youth and their families annually with creative entrepreneurship opportunities, high quality dance training and opportunities to study abroad.

In 2017, she founded Necessary Tomorrows, a radical platform for underrepresented creatives. To date, the platform has worked with 32 artists, selling over $42,000 of artwork with no commission, produced 16 shows, hosted seven studio visits and created six new artist collaborations. Early this year, the Necessary Tomorrows Fund launched to provide $5,000 to Black creatives in Baltimore to support their livelihood. 

Christmas was the 2011 recipient of the Rising Star Award from the Living Classroom Foundation and received the Leading Women 40 Under 40 Award from The Daily Record in 2013. She is the 2015 recipient of the New York Women’s Auxiliary Excellence Award and is a 2016 graduate of the Greater Baltimore Committee LEADership Program. Christmas holds a bachelor’s degree in finance from Morgan State University.

djassi daCosta Johnson is a native New Yorker, classically trained modern dancer, choreographer, photographer, filmmaker, designer, writer and doula. She holds a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from Barnard College and a Master of Fine Arts degree in dance, new media and technology from New York University’s Tish School of the Arts, where she was a Dean’s Fellow. Djassi has worked internationally as a dancer, actor, choreographer and creative director for fashion films, photo shoots and industrial showcases.

As a doula, her work extends to homeopathic, holistic and herbal healing as well as cloth diaper advocacy, education and extended breastfeeding support. She is currently developing a documentary project in conjunction with midwife Barri Malek on Black maternal health advocacy and the importance of sharing birth stores in order to shift the narrative around women and birth in in our global culture.

Djassi is currently in the process of birthing the first fine arts dance degree at the University of the Virgin Islands in St. Croix, where she teaches dance and humanities as an assistant professor.

Jenny Dorsey is a professional chef, author and speaker specializing in multi-platform storytelling, fusing food with social good. She leads a nonprofit community organization, Studio ATAO, and runs her own culinary consulting business. A former management consultant with a master’s degree in business administration from Columbia University, Dorsey decided to completely pivot her career and pursue the world of food. She worked at various Michelin-starred restaurants in New York City and San Francisco as well as in corporate food research and development before finding her voice using food as a form of social activism. She has written for outlets such as VICE, Eater, Serious EatsFood & Wine and Narratively and often speaks on the topic of food and identity. She most recently gave her first TEDx talk, “How Food Can Be a Source of Identity, Intimacy and Vulnerability.”

Aletheia Hyun-Jin Shin is a Korean community artist. Her life experience growing up as a third culture kid, born in Canada, and raised in the United States and Korea, informs her interest in transnational, intercultural and social practice art. Shin recently received her Master of Fine Arts degree in community arts from Maryland Institute College of Art. She incorporates the methodology of community organizing and storytelling in her art, focusing on building local leadership through creative platforms that promote solidarity and community voices. Shin facilitates the creation of artistic narrative projects as a vehicle to nurture culture, build community and bring awareness to the Korean community in Baltimore.

Tsedaye Makonnen is an interdisciplinary artist whose studio, curatorial and research-based practice threads together her identity as a daughter of Ethiopian immigrants, a Black American woman, a doula and a mother. Makonnen invests in the trans-historical forced migration of Black communities across the globe and Black womxnhood. She is the recent recipient of a Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship, DC Public Library Maker Residency, DC Oral History Collaborative grant and Art on the Vine’s Savage-Lewis Artist Residency in Martha’s Vineyard. She has performed at the Venice Biennale, Art Basel Miami, Chale Wote Street Art Festival (Ghana), El Museo del Barrio, Fendika Cultural Center (Ethiopia), Festival International d’Art Performance (Martinique), Queens Museum and various Smithsonian museums. She has spoken on migration and intersectional feminism at the Hirshhorn Museum, Black Portraitures conference, Common Field and New York University.

Maggie Pate is the designer and purveyor of Nåde, a natural dye studio.She began her career in fashion, modeling internationally, then retired to work for a label in New York City. Her work in textiles explores the synthesis of textures, repetition and geometry. Recently, her focus has shifted to cultivating a studio that is 100% sustainable and eco-friendly through capturing color predominantly with food waste collected from local restaurants and farms. 

Wanda Raimundi-Ortiz is an award-winning interdisciplinary visual and performance artist. She is interested in pop, hip-hop, and comic culture, portraying their intersections in murals, performance, and video-based works. She is the recipient of a 2019–20 Artists-in-Action Award from the Art & History Museums, Maitland; University of Central Florida (UCF) 2018 Women of Distinction Award; UCF LIFE Award; 2018 Research Incentive Award; 2017 UCF Luminary Award; 2016 Franklin Furnace Grant for performance; 2016 United States Artist Fellow nominee; UCF’s 2016 Woman Making History honoree; 2016 Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery’s Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition semifinalist; 2015 Orlando Museum of Art, Florida, Prize in Contemporary Art; 2013 Creative Capital “On Our Radar” honorable mention; and 2011 UCF Keeper of the Creed Award in Creativity. Raimundi-Ortiz was a class of 2008 Rutgers University Mason Gross School of Art Ralph Bunche Fellow and holds degrees from the Fashion Institute of Technology, the State University of New York and Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. She is an associate professor at the University of Central Florida.

Lauren Von Der Pool graduated fromLe Cordon Bleu and has worked with many notable chefs, including Wolfgang Puck and Alice Waters. Von Der Pool has also worked as a personal chef for many prominent celebrities, including Patti Labelle, Common, Stevie Wonder, Novak Djokovic and Venus and Serena Williams. Von Der Pool has catered many high-profile events like the Oscars, Grammys, BET Honors, BET Awards, Espys, MTV Music Awards, Billboard Awards, Congressional Black Caucus, Screen Actor Guild Awards, Olympics, Wimbledon and many others. In 2009, former First Lady Michelle Obamainvited Von Der Pool to serve as an executive chef for Let’s Move, her childhood obesity prevention campaign. 

Von Der Pool has dedicated much of her career conveying the importance of healthy living. Through her nonprofit Von Der Pool Healthy Living Services and her Fresh City Kids movement, she is committed to healing the world through food, agricultural awareness and self-empowerment.

About the Curator

Melani N. Douglass, NMWA’s director of public programs, heads the groundbreaking Women, Arts and Social Change (WASC) initiative. At NMWA, Douglass cultivates a network of artists, curators, collectors, journalists, thought leaders, entrepreneurs and influencers who understand the power of art to shape and transform society. Through long-range planning and strategic community engagement rooted in strong community partnerships, she expands the impact and reach of the museum’s public program initiatives.

Prior to her position at NMWA, Douglass established the community engagement department at Baltimore’s Everyman Theatre and founded the Family Arts Museum, a nomadic institution that celebrates and documents family as fine art. Douglass has over ten years of experience engaging communities through the arts. She holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in curatorial practice from the Maryland Institute College of Art.  

Women, Arts, and Social Change

Women, Arts, and Social Change (WASC) is a public programs initiative, launched in October 2015, that highlights the power of women and the arts as catalysts for change. Fresh Talk, the initiative’s signature program, features cause-driven conversations with artists, designers, activists, social innovators, filmmakers, writers and more. These programs empower women, spark community involvement and engage new audiences. In a typical season, WASC attendees gather at Sunday Supper, a communal meal served family-style, or Catalyst, a cocktail hour with a topic and a twist. This year, all programs are online, and each Fresh Talk includes virtual breakout rooms to encourage similar connections in the digital sphere.

The Women, Arts, and Social Change public programs initiative is made possible through leadership gifts from Denise Littlefield Sobel, the Davis/Dauray Family Fund, the Revada Foundation of the Logan Family, and the Susan and Jim Swartz Public Programs Fund. Additional funding is provided by the Bernstein Family Foundation. This project is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.

National Museum of Women in the Arts

The National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) is the only major museum in the world solely dedicated to championing women through the arts. With its collections, exhibitions, programs and online content, the museum inspires dynamic exchanges about art and ideas. NMWA advocates for better representation of women artists and serves as a vital center for thought leadership, community engagement and social change. NMWA addresses the gender imbalance in the presentation of art by bringing to light important women artists of the past while promoting great women artists working today. The collections highlight painting, sculpture, photography and video by artists including Louise Bourgeois, Mary Cassatt, Judy Chicago, Frida Kahlo, Shirin Neshat, Faith Ringgold, Pipilotti Rist, Amy Sherald and Élisabeth Louise Vigée-LeBrun.

NMWA is located at 1250 New York Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. It is open Mon.–Sat., 10 a.m.–5 p.m. and Sun., noon–5 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for visitors 65 and over and students, and free for NMWA members and youths 18 and under. Admission is free the first and third Sundays of each month. For information, call 202-783-5000, visit, Broad Strokes blog, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.